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French startup Ankorstore has raised a $283 million Series C funding round (€250 million). Founded in November 2019, it took Ankorstore around two years to reach a post-money valuation of $2 billion (€1.75 billion). The company operates a wholesale marketplace for independent retailers across Europe.

Ankorstore lets independent brands sell their products to independent retailers. Those retailers can then sell those products to their own customers. It’s a B2B2C play with a focus on offline sales at the end of the chain.

You can find a bit of everything on Ankorstore, from household supplies to maple syrup, candles, headbands, bath salts and stationery items. Some verticals have been working quite well in particular, such as non-perishable groceries, beauty products and items for your home.

And it’s been working extremely well given the company’s trajectory. There are currently 200,000 retailers using the marketplace and sourcing items from 15,000 brands. In May 2021, when Ankorstore raised its Series B, the company told me it was working with 50,000 shops and 5,000 brands.

This leads us to today’s funding round. Bond and Tiger Global led the Series C. Eurazeo and Coatue also participated in the round. Some existing investors put more money on the table, such as Index Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, GFC, Alven and Aglae Ventures.

There aren’t a lot of companies competing in the space. The best known wholesale marketplace is probably Faire, a U.S.-based company that has raised over $1 billion — it has recently started its European expansion. Creoate and Orderchamp also operate wholesale marketplaces in Europe.

A marketplace without inventory

Ankorstore has teams in five countries — France, the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. It sells products in 23 European markets. Retailers can pay up to 60 days after ordering something and there are no hidden fees for them. Essentially, Ankorstore helps retailers focus on curation, service while the startup takes care of procurement.

As for brands listing their items on Ankorstore, they give a 10% cut on each transaction following a higher 20% cut on the first order through Ankorstore.

Some brands still have direct deals with massive retailers, such as department stores. And Ankorstore doesn’t prevent brands from hiring sales people, going to fairs, etc. The marketplace is just another sales channel and another opportunity to find customers.

And this is the beauty of the business model of wholesale marketplaces. Ankorstore doesn’t have any warehouse and doesn’t own any inventory. The company only facilitates transactions between brands and retailers without any capital investment.

“We think we’re closer to LinkedIn in the way we operate — it’s a network of professionals and we help them connect with each other,” co-founder and co-CEO Nicolas Cohen told me.

And like all social networks, there are some strong network effects as the platform gets bigger. In particular, Ankorstore expects to expand to new categories, such as perishable food.

The startup already has a deal with UPS to help brands with shipping. But the company hasn’t done much when it comes to warehousing solutions for small brands. That’s another opportunity down the road.

With 400 employees and a lot of money in its bank account, Ankorstore could act as the unifying layer of this highly fragmented industry.

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